The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index measures the number of contracts to buy homes signed each month. The index – which is a good indicator of future sales of previously owned homes – jumped 3.4 percent in March, beating economists’ expectations and providing the first signs of a spring sales spike. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said the gain was inevitable. After a slow winter, buyers had an opportunity to look at homes and are beginning to make offers, Yun said. Regionally, pending sales were up in the Northeast, South, and West, falling only in the Midwest, where they slipped 0.8 percent. Home sales are expected to trend upward this year, as more homes are put up for sale and the economy and job market continue their ongoing recovery. Still, despite the fact that existing-home sales are expected to rise throughout this year and next, total sales in 2014 will likely be lower than they were the year before. The NAR expects total sales to reach 4.9 million this year. In 2013, sales were estimated at nearly 5.1 million. More here.